Disclaimer: I don't own Glee.
Say You Will
Chapter 2, Part I
It was 7:49 in the evening when Dave returned to the café to find the atmosphere to be completely transformed. The first thing he noticed was how incredibly chill the coffee shop was at night in comparison to the hurried hours of the morning. Also, sunlight that streamed through the tall windows that stretched from floor to ceiling had been replaced with a warm, orange blaze from the sconces adorning the walls. The expansive windows at the front of the shop were now nothing more than a transparent canvas depicting the yellow taxis and fancy BMW's symbolic of New York passing by in the ethereal glow of the city lights outside.
As Dave shrugged off his jacket, revealing the midnight blue button up dress shirt from that morning minus the silver and black striped tie, he glanced around at the few occupants in the room and found that Kurt was not one of those people sitting at the little, round tables scattered about the corner of the room. Dave did notice, however, that Kurt was true to his word when he said there would be live entertainment.
There was an attractive, young woman no older than twenty with scraggly, platinum blonde hair that had occupied the stool on the stage adjacent to the cash registers. Next to her was a guitar case, empty except for a few crumpled dollar bills, as the instrument was perched on her thigh. Dave watched, mesmerized as her fingers flew across the frets, curling and pressing down on the strings emitting a soft, almost familiar melody in the genre that Dave could only guess as classical guitar.
As Dave stepped further into the room, he reached into his back pants pocket and pulled out his wallet. As he stopped just in front of the stage, he removed a five dollar bill and laid it in the red velvet lined case. As he stood up, his eyes met with the girl's that were closed just moments before while immersed in the music she was playing. Dave returned her grateful smile with a small one of his own before she continued with her piece without pausing.
Dave thought, since he might have to wait a few minutes for Kurt to show up, he might as well get something to drink. This proved to be a difficult endeavor, though, as the spot behind the cash register was vacant. Dave frowned and he craned his neck to see if he could spot any of the workers in the back room, and then looked down to find a small silver bell usually found at reception desks in hospital emergency rooms. Dave sighed, before tapping it softly with the palm of his hand and it emitted a shrill ding.
Dave didn't have to wait long before someone came sidling out of the back room while adjusting their black visor, which must have been customary to their uniforms along with the black apron that Dave remembered seeing the other workers wearing in the morning. He saw the chestnut-colored hair that laid neatly on the top of his head despite the hat and it didn't take him long to recognize the worker once the person lowered their arms.
"Usually only the jerk-offs use the bell." Rosy lips quirked up in a playful smirk and Dave stared back, dumbfounded, at the man behind the counter.
"I… Guess I should probably apologize for almost destroying the merchandise this morning, then." Dave laughed again genuinely surprised to find that Kurt actually worked in the café where they were reunited that morning. He couldn't believe the frightening normalcy at the idea of Kurt Hummel working in a coffee shop. No other person on Earth aside from Kurt could make an apron look adorable and-dare he say it?-sexy at the same time. Dave couldn't begin to find the will to wipe bemused smile off of his face.
"Please," Kurt said, waving him off. "It's not like I'm some crazy manager or something." Kurt enunciated the end of the sentence and seemed to direct it to someone over his shoulder and sure enough, a voice behind Dave replied.
"I heard that." Dave turned around to see the girl who was just playing her guitar packing up her set. She had her lips pressed together in a thin line and narrowed her eyes at Kurt in what Dave interpreted as a playful manner. Dave turned back around just in time to see Kurt briefly stick his tongue out in her direction before sobering up.
"So what can I get you, David?" Dave turned his attention back to Kurt, feeling out of the loop in regards to the exchange between the two.
"Oh, um… Just a medium coffee. Decaf, though." Kurt nodded minutely before turning around towards the coffee machine.
Dave watched Kurt curiously. He couldn't tell for sure, but Kurt seemed to be scribbling something on the paper cup that he grabbed from the tall stack. He noted how at ease Kurt was behind the counter, working the complicated coffee machine as if he had been doing it for years.
"Room for cream?" Kurt called over his shoulder as he began filling the cup. Dave shook himself from his reverie at the sound of Kurt's voice-just as his eyes were beginning to slide further down Kurt's backside where the apron strings formed in a neat little bow perched almost neatly upon the curve of his ass.
"No, thank you." Dave cleared his throat as he pulled his wallet back out. Kurt pulled the lever back in place and he put a plastic lid on top of the cup, covering the scalding liquid.
"Would you like anything else with your coffee? One of our famous Italian Panini's? Or might I recommend our vegetarian Panini with artichoke hearts and feta cheese." Dave laughed, amused by how Kurt seemed to be treating him like one of his regular customers. His simpering smile led Dave to believe that Kurt was enjoying himself.
"No, that's okay. But I'll definitely remember that for the future."
"Okay, so your total comes to…" Kurt pushed a few buttons on the register, "A dollar eighty-three," Kurt said patiently and Dave handed over two dollar bills. Kurt accepted the cash and pressed another button on the register so that it chimed and the door popped open. Kurt placed the dollars in the drawer and counted out Dave's change.
"Seventeen cents is your change." Dave held out his hand, accepting the coins as the tips of Kurt's fingers-emanating with warmth from holding the coffee cup-lingered momentarily on the fleshy part of his open hand. Without even thinking about it, Dave dropped the change in the container labeled Tips next to some individually packaged biscotti's.
"Oh, how generous of you," Kurt said, the mirth in his eyes betraying the snippiness in his voice.
"Kurt, please be nice to our loyal customers." Dave saw the same blonde girl, guitar case in hand, come into his periphery. Dave didn't notice during the first time she spoke, but after uttering a few more words he was able to hear her evident Australian accent. Kurt rolled his eyes.
"David's been here, what, two times? No offense." Kurt noticed the confused look on Dave's face and decided to fill him in.
"Dave, this is my good friend, Anna. We go to the same school and we work together here. Anna this is Dave. My friend from high school." Dave opened his mouth to amend that statement, because thanks to his past behavior, they most certainly weren't friends in high school. And Dave wondered why Kurt would begin to even refer to him as such; but before he could say anything, Anna spoke up.
"I'm his superior," she said rather proudly as she extended her hand for Dave to shake.
"Okay, you have been the assistant manager for like, two weeks. And bad move on your part taking the position, hon. More hours, and no pay raise." Kurt tisked and shook his head morosely.
"He's just jelly that they asked me instead of him."
"Well, of course they would ask you first, you've been working here a year longer than I have. And jelly? Really? I have got to stop teaching you all these American euphemisms." Kurt pushed Dave's coffee towards him. "Just give me a second and I'll be right out." Kurt smiled at Dave and he walked in the direction of the bathroom.
"Sorry 'bout that." Anna flashed her sparkling white teeth in Dave's direction. "He knows I love him to death, but messing with him is too much fun."
"You guys seem close." Dave noted as he watched Kurt disappear behind the bathroom door.
"Yeah," Anna agreed as she set the wider end of the guitar case on the floor and perched and elbow on top of it. "I'm a junior here at FIT. I think I was so homesick during my first year here that I didn't bother trying to get to know anybody. I would just stay in my dorm or go to work or play my guitar. But then Kurt came along a year and a half ago. We met in one of our classes last year. Ohio may not be as far from New York as Melbourne, but it's understandable that he would be as homesick. I really think we helped each other out in that department."
"Wait, FIT…?" Dave frowned in confusion.
"Oh, Fashion Institute of Technology. It seems that both mine and Kurt's 'Plan A" went out the window when we finished high school. I knew I always wanted to come to the states, but I couldn't decide on whether I wanted to go into fashion, something I've always been interested in, or music, my first love. But I went with fashion, since I can always play guitar in my free time. And not to mention playing here for some extra cash."
"Well, you are really good, already." Dave said truthfully. "It was beautiful, I can't imagine what more you could learn…"
"I'm back!" Kurt appeared from behind Dave from out of the bathroom. He had since removed his visor and his apron was hanging from his arm. "Sorry, David, I just needed to fix my hair."
"Well, I guess I'll leave you two to catch up." Anna gave Dave a friendly wink. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Dave. I hope I'll see you around here more often. Oh, and you…" Anna rounded on Kurt. "I need your visor and apron, I forgot mine."
"What would you do without me?" Kurt asked as he handed the items over, like this was a regular thing for them.
"Probably fire myself, I'm sure," Anna said, putting her long hair up in a ponytail. And then as she walked away, she put a hand on Kurt's arm, and whispered 'I like him' loudly enough for Dave to hear.
Kurt laughed, shaking his head at his friend's antics as she walked around the counter with her guitar and into the back room, where Dave assumed was where she stored it while she worked.
"You better be careful," Kurt said as he and Dave found a table close by. "If you keep being nice to her she'll think she's actually your type."
Kurt froze just before he sat down, and Dave watched the mortified expression grow on his face.
"Oh, God," Kurt groaned as he covered his face with his hands. "Dave, I'm so sorry. I can't believe I just… That was so rude of me, I—"
"Kurt," Dave said firmly, reaching across the table to take one of Kurt's wrists in his hand so he couldn't hide. "It's okay. I actually came out to my parents just before leaving for college."
"Still, I shouldn't have assumed…" Dave shrugged, taking a sip of his coffee.
"No harm, no foul. So… Fashion Institute of Technology, huh? I always imagined you going to school to sing or something." Kurt visibly relaxed as they drifted into an easy conversation.
"Well, that was my original plan but, I guess I had a bit of a wakeup call when I wasn't able to get into my dream college for performing arts. I've always liked fashion and design. I guess I have my dad and stepmother to thank. I was about to put my whole life on hold, as well as my dreams of moving to New York, just because what I originally wanted didn't go according to plan. But, there were—are—plenty of other things I'm good at, so why should I waste those skills when I could put them to good use?"
Dave nodded. It made sense considering all the fashionable clothes Kurt wore in high school, and even now, as well.
"So what is it that you are studying there?"
"I'm Majoring in Menswear," he paused to laugh at Dave's amused expression. "I know right? I still can't believe I can get a degree in this field. But I'm also Minoring in Interior Design. It seems like a weird combo but…I really enjoy both. And I'm talking some women's clothing design classes on the side as well. I've been thinking about owning my own clothing store one of these days or at the very least, my own clothing or brand name."
"That's… Really impressive, Kurt. I mean, it sucks that the other school turned you down, but it's their loss. I guess where they missed out on having an amazing singer another school just gained an incredible fashion designer." Dave raised his cup slightly before taking a sip of the hot, bitter liquid while peering over the top at Kurt.
"That's really sweet of you, David." Kurt looked down shyly at the chipped grain in the table, running a finger over it. "So what about you? Not to be rude, of course, but why New York? What have you been up to since moving here?"
"Oh, well… Right now I'm going to New York University. Not this second, I mean… School starts up again next week, so…"
"Dave, that's wonderful. What are you studying?"
"I guess I was in the same predicament that you were in at the beginning. I couldn't decide between Business and Mathematics, so I decided on a double major. This is going to sound really stupid but, uh…" Dave laughed, rubbing his cheek in embarrassment. "The only reason I chose NYU was because it was the school my dad went to. I thought that maybe then he would have one reason to be proud of me after I came out to him. Turns out," he finished with a soft note, looking away from Kurt, "That he was proud of me for that reason in itself.
Kurt watched Dave with a gentle expression, "So, I take it went well?"
Dave let out a shaky breath. If Kurt didn't know any better, this was the first time Dave was talking about his interaction with his father.
"'Said that it took a lot of courage to do what I did; take responsibly for my actions... I guess he figured it out after I transferred out of McKinley. He never did say anything about it though. I just told him I wanted a fresh start after everything that went down... Between us." Dave took a sip of his coffee to buffer the silence between him.
"You're dad's a smart man, I think." Kurt smiled gently at Dave. "I'm really proud of you too, Dave." Dave looked up from where he was toying with his cup of coffee to stare at Kurt with vulnerable eyes. "I'm glad we were able to run into each other-or into kiosks, in your case-" Kurt added playfully, "Here in New York, away from the crazy drama and judgmental individuals."
"Like I didn't contribute to at least half of it." Dave rolled his eyes as he attempted to brush off Kurt's sincerity.
"I mean it," Kurt said seriously, and he reached across the table and placed his smaller hand on top of his and giving it a gentle squeeze. "I have to say, David Karofsky, it's been a pleasure to be able to see you, the real you. If I remember correctly, there were... Two other occasions where I was able to see this side of you?" Kurt attempted to recall. "But if I remember correctly, you still weren't in good place then, were you? "
Kurt went on as Dave continued to stare at him awe, this miraculous boy-no-man who was able to see right through him; crack him open and read him like clearly printed words in a book.
"You seem happier. Like a weight's been lifted off of you." Kurt surmised. The only weight that Dave could think of at the moment was the soft pressure of his silky hand that had yet to be removed from on top of his. "You are happy right?"
Happy? Happiness for Dave the last two years was being able to get to work or school on time despite the horrible traffic. Happy was staying up until two in the morning on a school night to finish a paper and getting at least an A- on it. Everything that had occurred in the last three years since leaving McKinley seemed dull and vapid in comparison to this moment as Dave felt Kurt's index finger shift slightly, resulting in what felt like invisible fire coming to light underneath Dave's skin.
Dave wasn't happy, he realized. No.
Because, even after all of these years, he was still in love with Kurt Hummel.
I'll pick up here in the second part of this chapter.